Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis patients with anti-tumour necrosis factor drugs (anti-TNFs) could reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.
The study by the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism used retrospective data to determine that treatment with anti-TNFs over one, two and three year periods reduce risk by 24 per cent, 42 per cent and 56 per cent respectively.
Dr Michael Nurmohamed, VU University Medical Centre & Jan van Breemen Research Institute in the Netherlands and lead study author, said that heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis are closely linked, with some studies suggesting that heart attack risk doubles in the first ten years after RA diagnosis.
"As anti-TNFs are now the treatment of choice for patients who are unstable on methotrexate, the decreased cardiovascular risk observed in the study is an added bonus to an already successful class of drugs," he said.
The use of anti-TNFs reduced the risk of heart disease with each additional six months of treatment.
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